Monday Morning Quarterbacking With Dr. Rhadi Ferguson: Head Gear, Concussions, Super Bowl and Certifications??!?!?

rhadi ferguson-bahamas judo
Coach Rhadi Ferguson with the Bahamas Judo Team
It’s Monday again, how about that? We made it. And here we are back with Dr. Rhadi Ferguson to do some Monday Morning Quarterbacking. Interestingly enough, although we had a UFC event and the Super Bowl this weekend, we didn’t discuss any of that. Instead, well, you will see…

Jack Bratcher: Once again we have Dr. Ferguson in our midst for the Monday Morning Quarterbacking Session. Doc how are you?

Dr. Rhadi Ferguson: I am doing absolutely fantastic, unfortunately I did not have an opportunity to watch UFC 169 or the Super Bowl this weekend.

Jack Bratcher: No Super Bowl or UFC? Why?

Dr. Rhadi Ferguson: Well, this weekend I had to fulfill some of my duties as a National Coach and the Technical Judo Consultant for the Bahamas Judo Federation on Saturday in Delray Beach, Fla., at the 2014 USA Judo Cup and then Sunday I completed a 1/2 Marathon in Miami in the morning and then after that, I ate, rested and then got on the road to head back to Tampa to return to my wife and kids.

Jack Bratcher: How long is was the drive?

Dr. Rhadi Ferguson: From Tampa to Fort Lauderdale is about 5 hours. It’s crazy. Five hours down, then I had to pick up my 1/2 marathon packet on Friday in Miami and then coach all day on Saturday and then the 1/2 marathon on Sunday. I’m pretty tired today.

Jack Bratcher: Well what’s on your mind Dr. Ferguson?

Dr. Rhadi Ferguson: Well, I just finished watching the documentary “Head Games” and I have always been concerned about the amount of head trauma experienced in Mixed Martial Arts because the culture is not a pure boxing culture which means the practices in the gym for sparring are sometimes a little bit loose.

Case, in point, when I was training with 1976 Olympic Gold Medalist Howard Davis, Jr., he would not allow any head shots in sparring. We only punched to the body and to the shoulders. He only allowed head shots if we were fully geared up with 16 ounce gloves. And he knew how I felt about my brain and the years that I’ve spent to acquire that information that I have in my head so he was very careful about exposing me to sparring and head shots.

But I have seen many fighters and have been to many gyms where they spar without head gear. I think that is crazy and just not smart. If you are sparring and hitting to the head you should most definitely wear head gear. And when practicing full MMA, you should tone down the head shots in my opinion.

I can’t tell you the times where I’ve been to some gyms where the fighters spar without head gear and are throwing hard head shots. Not only that, nobody had head gear to put on. It’s crazy.

Jack Bratcher: But Doc, do you think MMA is more dangerous than boxing when it comes to head trauma?

Dr. Rhadi Ferguson: I say yes because its such a widely practiced sport with not much oversight. Meaning, if you get your bell rung in MMA practice, you just sit out of a moment and keep going. The level of education about concussions by those that coach MMA is pretty low, but those that coach MMA without proper knowledge of science of any-damn-thing is pretty high. Man, I’ve been to gyms where the head coach isn’t even certified in first aid and CPR, let alone have read any studies on concussions. Where are the nationally or internationally certified MMA coaches?

There are none?

I mean, at least, USA Boxing has a certification course. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt for some of these quote/unquote MMA coaches to actually get a coaching credential from USA Boxing, USA Judo or USA Wrestling or something. NOT FOR the credential but for some established coaching education and some mandatory oversight for continuing education. I mean, I get magazines that come to my home that address training, concussions, new trends in sports science, etc.,. due to my memberships, certification and because I am an editorial reviewer for two academic journals. So…. I’m kind of forced to or at least urged to stay abreast on such things because you have to get continuing education units in order to do so. But man, coaching without understanding coaching, teaching and training is really weird.

Now, I’ve run into some very well read coaches, as I’ve said before, like Greg Jackson. And then, I’ve run into some people who really know their sport and that’s it. And that’s cool, if you have some other people around who can help you. But if you are in a gym and setting a clock for sparring rounds and overseeing head trauma, well….. you should know a little bit about head trauma or have some folks around that do. Even, high school football does this.

I’ve really changed the way that I teach judo per the head trauma education that I have now per what I had when I first began coaching. Do the kids still throw each other?

Yes.

Have I reduced the time of the rounds and the falls on the ground?

Yes.

Jack Bratcher: Wow, as I’ve said before, I never know where we’re going with this Monday Morning Quarterbacking piece. I thought I’d be able to tie in the Superbowl or UFC 169 and here we are talking about USA Boxing, coaching credentials and concussions.

Dr. Rhadi Ferguson: And all of it is related and all of it is important. With that being said. Before we close today Jack, I want to urge every MMA practitioner, coach, parent and enthusiast to watch the documentary “Head Games.” It’s pretty good and will make you think a little bit differently about what you see when you are watching sports.

Thanks for your time Jack.

Jack Bratcher: Dr. Ferguson, thank you sir.
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